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Ford Ramping up Capacity for Hybrids

Ford Motor Company has announced that it has begun engineering a hybrid transaxle for its next generation of hybrid vehicles and revealed that its new 3.5-liter V-6 engine will be hybrid capable. Both components will play key roles in the company's commitment to increase hybrid production to 250,000 by 2010.

"We are ramping up our capacity for hybrids and working to improve the business equation for hybrids," said Dr. Gerhard Schmidt, vice president, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. "This involves not only the new transaxle, but continuing to research advanced technologies to improve hybrid technology to make our vehicles even more efficient."

The new 250 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6, also known as the Duratec 35, will be built at the Lima (Ohio) Engine Plant. In addition to offering hybrid capability, the new engine also is capable of meeting the Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle standard and can easily accommodate other technologies, such as gasoline direct-injection and turbo charging with direct-injection. It will debut in conventional gasoline-internal-combustion form in the all-new 2007 Ford Edge and Lincoln Aviator crossover utility vehicles. By the end of the decade, the new 3.5-liter V-6 architecture will power more than half of the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury crossover and car lineup.

The new 3.5-liter V-6 represents Ford's first use of Design For Six Sigma (DFSS) in a major powertrain program. Traditionally used as a find-and-fix, data-driven methodology, DFSS utilizes Six Sigma principles in the design phase to produce more robust components and systems from the very beginning.

The Lima Engine Plant will use two innovative environmental manufacturing technologies to help produce the new engine. Minimum Quantity Lubrication (MQL) will be used for the machining of crankshafts. The MQL process uses far less coolant than conventional wet-machining, provides a cleaner plant environment, improves the longevity of machining equipment and saves a significant amount of money.

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